AGENCY: Forest Service, USDA.
ACTION: Notice of intent to prepare an environmental impact statement.
SUMMARY: The Forest Service is preparing an environmental impact
statement (EIS) to document the potential effects of the Flagstaff
Watershed Protection Project (FWPP). The analysis will evaluate and
disclose the effects of implementing treatments on the National Forest
to reduce the threat of high severity wildfire and subsequent flooding
in two watersheds around Flagstaff. Specifically, two key areas have
been identified for analysis and treatment under this project: The Dry
Lake Hills portion of the Rio de Flag Watershed north of Flagstaff, and
the Mormon Mountain portion of the Upper Lake Mary Watershed south of
Flagstaff. The project area includes approximately 10,543 acres
(roughly 7,569 acres in the Dry Lake Hills portion and 2,974 on Mormon
Mountain), and proposed treatments would include thinning and
prescribed fire on roughly 8,810 of those acres. The EIS will analyze a
variety of harvesting methods, including the use of traditional ground-
based equipment, hand thinning, and also methods atypical for the
region, including cable and helicopter logging, in order to treat
steep, inaccessible terrain.
DATES: Comments concerning the scope of the analysis must be received
by May 13, 2013. The draft environmental impact statement is expected
in early 2014 and the final environmental impact statement is expected
in the summer of 2014.
ADDRESSES: Send written comments to Erin Phelps, Project Leader, USDA
Forest Service, Coconino National Forest, 5075 N. Hwy 89, Flagstaff, AZ
86004. Comments may also be sent via email to firstname.lastname@example.org
, or via facsimile to 928-527-8288. Verbal
comments can be submitted in person at the Flagstaff Ranger District
Office, 5075 N. Hwy 89, Flagstaff, AZ 86004 or via telephone at (928)
527-8240 during normal business hours (8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.).
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Visit our planning Web site at http://www.fs.usda.gov/projects/coconino/landmanagement/projects
Erin Phelps, Project Leader, by phone at (928) 527-8240 or by email at email@example.com
Individuals who use telecommunication devices for the deaf (TDD)
may call the Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 1-800-877-8339
between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m., Eastern Time, Monday through Friday.
Purpose and Need for Action
The primary purpose of the Flagstaff Watershed Protection Project
(FWPP) is to reduce the risk of high severity wildfire and subsequent
flooding in two key watersheds around Flagstaff, Arizona: In the Dry
Lake Hills portion of the Rio de Flag Watershed, and the Mormon
Mountain portion of the Upper Lake Mary Watershed.
The FWPP analysis area includes portions of the Coconino National
Forest that have either not been analyzed or not been treated
previously due to prohibitive costs associated with very steep terrain,
low value material, and other challenging issues such as potential
impacts to wildlife and visual concerns.
There is a need to reduce the risk of high intensity wildfire in
watersheds that contribute to the drinking water for the City of
Flagstaff as well as reducing the risk of high intensity wildfire in
the watershed that drains into the city itself. There is also a need to
reduce the risk of severe flooding that would likely damage the
drinking water infrastructure south of town, and which could also cause
extensive damage to private municipal property should a high-intensity
wildfire occur in mountainous areas that make-up the Upper Lake Mary
and Rio de Flag watersheds.
In general, fire regimes in the analysis area have shifted from
historically more frequent, lower-intensity surface fires (Fire Regime
I and III, Condition Class I) to less frequent, higher-intensity crown
fires (Condition Class III). There is a need to reduce the potential
for crown fire and high intensity surface fire, and to reduce the
likelihood of human-caused ignitions. The desired condition is to
reduce the threat of high severity wildfire and subsequent flooding to
values at risk within and adjacent to the project area, including the
City of Flagstaff, outlying communities, the Kachina Peaks Wilderness,
and Upper Lake Mary. For the majority of the project area, the desired
condition is to decrease the departure from historic conditions, and
return the majority of the analysis area in FRI and FRIII to Condition
To meet the project's purpose and need, the Forest Service proposes
a combination of thinning and prescribed burning activities, establishing a permanent campfire closure order in the Dry Lake Hills
area and decommissioning about 34 miles of road in the Flagstaff
Watershed Protection Project area.
To facilitate timber removal,
approximately 15.5 miles of temporary road are also proposed, and three
non-significant Forest Plan amendments would be necessarily to
implement the proposed activities.
For the full notice.... http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2013-04-11/html/2013-08455.htm